by Michael R. Allen
Sure, the house at 1925-27 Madison Street in St. Louis Place had its front wall rebuilt in a 1950s brick that clashes with its 19th century slate mansard. Yes, its immediate neighbors were gone when I took the above photograph in 2006. Still the old house was solid as one of its wall bricks and close to the dense cluster of redeveloped property around the Falstaff Brewery at 20th and Madison. To boot, the house was included as a contributing resource to the Clemens House-Columbia Brewery Historic District, so rehabbing this building could land someone — like its owner, McEagle Properties — historic tax credits.
The happy ending never came. On early Monday morning, September 21, a blaze consumed the building causing severe damage. Strangely, the city’s Building Division had recently boarded all of the building’s first floor doors and windows with the red composite boards now being used.
On the night of the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Commission advisory vote on the first part of McEagle’s NorthSide TIF, I left the meeting early after not being able to get inside. I drove up to check out the damage, which had been reported on KTVI. I came across a man picking intact bricks out of the rubble. At the curb was a car without plates or a dealer’s sticker. I called 911.